As the sun rises over a cool morning in Mont Tremblant, a bevy of athletes are ready to take on one of the most beautiful Ironman 70.3 courses out there. Mont Tremblant begins with a wetsuit-legal lap around the still-chilly Lake Tremblant (Lac Tremblant for the Francophiles among us). From there it’s a quarter mile run up to T1, and onto the rolling bike course (2500 total feet of elevation) that could challenge athletes accustomed to more flat terrain. Although not a new race, there is a new run course this year – an out-and-back on Le P’tit Train du Nord, a former railway bed-turned-park, finishing in the village. Tres bien!
The stacked field for 2015 includes Jesse Thomas, Tyler Butterfield, Richie Cunningham, Lionel Sanders, Meredith Kessler, Magali Tesseyre, Jessie Donavan, and Alicia Kaye. The trend toward racing back-to-back weekends is apparent in this field, perhaps motivated by Mont Tremblent’s $60,000 total prize purse and 70.3/KPR points – Kaye is coming off a win at Ironman 70.3 Boulder last week, while Kessler just won Challenge Williamsburg in hot conditions – will the fatigue catch up to these two, or will we see them on top of the podium again?
First out of the balmy 62-degree water was Aussie James Seear in 23:14, followed 19 seconds later by native Canadian Antoine Desroches. Chasing in 3rd and 4th position just over a minute after the leader were Paul Ambrose and Richie Cunningham, neck-in-neck in 24:20. Lionel Sanders, always a threat on the bike, left the swim with a 4 minute deficit to make up.
At the 33k mark, Cody Beals had taken charge, followed closely by Jesse Thomas, Ambrose, Butterfield, Taylor Reid and Cunningham – all within 21 seconds. Meanwhile, Sanders was making substantial progress, reducing his deficit to 52 seconds. By 60k, Sanders had taken control, although the chase pack remained intact and close on his heels. A surge by Butterfield at the end of the
bike leg allowed him to slip past Sanders; Butterfield entered T2 8 seconds up on Sanders, Thomas, Reid and Cunningham – setting up a tight race to be contested on the run.
Coming out of T2, Sanders, Thomas and Reid ran together – still chased by Butterfield 0:40 back and Cunningham +0:50. Sanders, Thomas and Reid ran side-by-side through 11km before we finally saw Lionel Sanders begin to stretch out his lead in typical fashion – at 16.5 km, Reid stayed 5 seconds back, while Jesse Thomas appeared to be in need of a Picky Bar, falling off pace by 16 seconds. Cunningham and Butterfield remained in 4th and 5th position 3 minutes back. Sanders ultimately proved uncatchable, finishing in 3:45:38. Taylor Reid stayed strong in second place (3:46:22), a mere 45 seconds off Sanders, proving he could hang with the best. Thomas held on for 3rd in 3:48:06.
Meredith Kessler got off to a dominant start, first out of the water in 24:34, with Holly Lawrence and Alicia Kaye on her heels 1 second later. Coming out of the water alone a bit over 1 minute later
was hometown favorite Magali Tisseyre in 25:54. The chase pack arrived at the 28 minute mark, featuring a trio of Canadians: Christine Fletcher, Caroline St-Pierre, and Marie-Renee Vial.
A quick T1 allowed Holly Lawrence to get a jump on Kessler and Kaye, with Kaye back 0:08 and Kessler + 0:12 as the three leading ladies headed out on the bike.
33k into the bike, Kessler, Kaye and Lawrence were still within 3 seconds of each other. From there, the women’s field continued to spread out. 3:32 back was Magali Tisseyre, followed 6 minutes later by fellow Canadian Christine Fletcher. The trio of Kessler, Kaye and Lawrence continued to battle on the bike, maintaining position within 4 seconds of each other through 60k. By bike split #3 at 81km, Kaye’s effort last weekend at Boulder seemed to catch up to her, as she fell 3 minutes back on Kessler and Lawrence. Kessler continued to prove that she was firing on all 4 cylinders, making a final push to come off the bike 0:54 ahead of Lawrence, with Kaye still in contention 4:30 back.
Kessler set out on the run looking to stretch out her lead, and stretch it she did – putting 2:06 on Lawrence before the 10km mark, while Alicia Kaye followed +6:23. The next closest woman? 23:43 back. The remainder of the run was The Meredith Kessler Show, as she continued to put time on Lawrence and Kaye, finishing in a swift 4:10:32. Kessler’s win today placed her ahead of 9 pro men and gave her her 3rd win in 3 weeks. Holly Lawrence was 2nd across the line in 4:15:33, with Kaye rounding out the podium in 4:18:22.
— Meredith B Kessler (@mbkessler) June 21, 2015